Sunday, February 29, 2004

Girls Night Out for A Cause

Volunteered at the Take Back the Air Fest to benefit Portsmouth Community Radio and New Heights last night. Stef and I were the ticket sellers at the door for most of the night. I had to abandon my post for a while right off the bat because Shuttle Cock was the first band on and I had to go stand right up front (well, behind some high school girls) and gaze upon them. Guess I'll just say I'm a big fan and leave it at that.
There were six bands on the bill and I saw half of them-- Shuttle Cock, Captain Bluebird (good and adorable!) and Satan's Teardrops. I've heard a lot about Satan's Teardrops and they totally lived up to the hype. Very very cool.
Dan Blakeslee was the emcee. He's so awesome. I forgot to tell him his Halloween cd scared my dog into a barking frenzy. We got free t-shirts for volunteering, got to talk to people I've known and not seen decades and meet new ones as well. Actually spoke to Bruce Pingree but I couldn't fess up to being the former underage regular at the Riverside Club who wrote about him in her blog. That's all right.
Since we were also handing out raffle tickets at our table we were the repository for all the cds, shirts and assorted goodies the bands donated for the raffle. This put me in the fortunate position of being able to buy a Shuttle Cock shirt direct from Cam when he came over to drop one off for the raffle. My very own Shuttle Cock shirt! I'm so very psyched.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

It's Down to the Wire

I used to think Saturday mornings were for sleeping in and taking it slow, but since October Saturdays mornings have meant going to Weight Watchers. I'll admit it's not the easiest thing to do when it's cold and wet outside, but on a fine spring morning like this one, it's not half bad. Lost 2.2 pounds this week, despite a fairly severe pizza incident and an ugly run in with a large bag of baked potato chips. I did some yoga and walked longer than usual and have had some weird deep sinus thing going on that makes me slightly more vertiginous than normal and, as a result, not very hungry. Anyway, that brings me down under my best fighting weight (though not nearly as buff) and to just 2 more pounds to goal. My new years resolution was to reach goal by my birthday. The birthday is Thursday and the next weigh in is Saturday. This should be do-able.
It's really only just 15 pounds total but it's a big deal to me and my family because food has been quite an issue in many ways. I was always "the fat one" and now I'm not. I also do think about things I read and realize at my age I better start taking care of myself for the long haul, because I plan on being around for it.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Ramble On

What I love about this place and what I couldn't see until I went away, was that all the things about this place that make everyone seem like everyone else are what makes us so unique if we go anywhere else. The New Englandy-ness of it all. I guess that's how it is everywhere-- where you are becomes the whole world and everything else becomes an after thought. It's easy to be not fully aware because there's so much you can take for granted. I slip back into it here even now. I can be driving up Dover Point Road for example, and the trees are all still there and tall, but bare so you can see the river on the right if you're paying attention. There's still guys looking the same as they did thirty years ago-- woodsy-looking work clothes that people in the city wear for fashion. The snow's clumped up in gray melting piles on the side of the road. Tuttles is still there on the left; it has been since 1632. The car's warm. The radio's on. I could be 6 (except I'm driving) or 16 or 24.
I never really felt like that in Japan or Hawaii or Colorado, except I never minded much in Hawaii or Colorado, for obvious reasons.
It's just funny. If anyone had told me two years ago what my life would be life today I would have told them they were dreaming. One year ago today we were in Hawaii having dinner with friends (as one of said friends so pleasantly reminded me this morning). Just gotta keep going with the flow I guess. So far, so good.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Funk Free or Die?

Well, here it is, a Garageband loop creation by me. It's only about 30 seconds long so it's not even really a song, but I'm calling it Red House Funk(mp3). It was done completely by splicing loops together. Not sure why I ended up with a funk song, it's just what was speaking to me at the moment.

Memory Error

I think whatever sector of my brain that was previously used for remembering peoples' names has been overwritten by Japanese kanji. I rarely need to use a kanji dictionary anymore, which certainly makes translating go a whole lot faster, but I can't remember peoples' names. When I was a kid I remembered the name and face of everyone I met, even if I only met them for a brief time. Now if I meet and talk with someone and then don't see them for about 6 months I may or may not recognize their face, but I almost always space out their name. I wonder if anyone else has this problem or if its just a lack of attention on my part.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

My Life Is No Life!

Way way way waaaaaayyyyyy too much time being spent on websites investigating connectors, controllers, input devices, pre-amps and mixers. It's really possible to throw together a cool little laptop recording studio for under $300. I mean, of course I have to get the keyboard. Will also eventually need iMic or something similar to input guitar and mic. That's something you can pick up on eBay for under $30 if you time it right. Then again, there's the Behringer UB502 Eurorack mixer for $40 that puts whatever you've got hooked up to it onto a single analog track, which I think would work great for our Bolt sound.
It's all these guys' fault for pointing out even more options.


Still not quite over that show yet. I was really surprised and impressed by the keyboard player's guitar leads. He played a guitar solo, with Warren just hanging back playing rhythm and none of the wasted people in the audience probably even really noticed that the guitar sound was coming from the keyboards. I thought that was really cool and very new millenium. It's also making me really want a keyboard.
The kids stayed over Mom's last night, allowing the four of us the night out together. When my daughter came back today she had a little photo album with pictures of me when I was a kid. One was a picture of me sitting at the piano in our old house on Miller Ave. I spent a lot of hours at that piano, for years. I think I could get some chops back.

Monday, February 23, 2004


Went to see Govt Mule last night at the Center for the Arts in Concord. We walked in and the tin-ceilinged lobby was full of beards, baseball caps and beers. Wool and flannel plaids and Carhart jackets everywhere with a sprinkling of patchouli-scented, messy haired, crunchy granola youth thrown in for good(?) measure.
The show was incredible. Warren Haynes has got to be one of the most talented men you're ever going to see on stage. That man opens his mouth and there is so much power and beauty in his voice. His guitar playing is also just beyond. Every musician up there was incredible. I'm usually not one for keyboards, but the keyboardist rocked. He had some great sounds and amazing chops. All of them did, really.
They played a mix of originals and covers. Early on they did Neil Young's Rocking in the Free World, which I saw them do as an encore in Portsmouth at the Music Hall two years ago. They did a few Zepplin tunes (No Quarter and ... I'm spacing the other one in my Monday morning haze), Traffic's Low Spark of High Heel Boys and a Radiohead tune. I don't think the diehards were into the Radiohead cover but I thought it was brilliant. There was also some free form jazz (acid jazz?) that was pushing the envelope and lots of good long jams. Excellent, excellent, excellent.
Go get yourself some Mule.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

My Life is iLife

GarageBand is very good. Very very good for a rainy gray weekend. A little scary in its implications, but it's pretty fucking brilliant. I mean, if you can make stuff that sounds this good just by throwing loops together, why should you bother to actually learn to play an instrument? It's kind of freaky that way.
Actually, I will need to get a couple of adapters to connect guitars and a keyboard to the iBook, but I have the guitars and keyboard at my disposal, so that's good. I have already wreaked havoc on a couple of Bolt tunes by adding horns and cheesy synth sounds. Stef hasn't heard them yet but they've gotten a good reception around here.
I haven't done much poking around the web yet because I'm too busy playing with the program, but seems a likely place for obsessives to gather. I smell a revolution coming on.

Friday, February 20, 2004


Just sitting here waiting around for the FedEx man on a sunny free Friday morning. I'm tracking the journey of my iLife package and I know it was loaded onto a truck for delivery in Portsmouth this morning. Technology is cool.
I must admit it's starting to feel slightly spring like. The light is different and the birds are back and singing.
Spring here feels like it moves in slow motion. In Japan it was bing-bang-boom! Within a few weeks it's undeniably spring. It has a lot more layers here.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Today Portsmouth, Tomorrow Rye!

So, what do folks up here during the long cold endless winters? Apparently some people lose their minds, like this.
Check out the gallery to see how they RAWK the winter in NH.

Ramble On

Today it was pointed out to me that it was obvious by the way I compose my project request forms that my politeness level was still pretty much tuned to the Japanese standard. The request started, "Could you please...". Didn't find that at all odd myself, but who knows. I'm still not quite completely tuned into the channel here, if you know what I mean. Still, I think polite as a default mode for human interaction is not a bad thing.
I spent twelve years of my life in Japan. Intentionally (for the most part). A lot of things permeate in that length of time. I knew when I left here that if/when I came back I'd be different. That was kind of the point.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Signs of Life

It's kind of warm today so the squirrels are all out and scampering. Nice to some some signs of life out there.
The yard looks glossy, white and crunchy. It's just all so...drab.
I can't wait for this place to start coming back to life. I'm looking really hard but there's just no sign of spring yet.

Clean It Up

One of the many huge differences between being a kid in school in Japan and in the States is that here no one really has to clean up after themselves. In Japan, from pre-school on it's standard procedure that the students clean their own classroom. I'm talking sweeping and scrubbing the floor with cleaning rags. There is no janitor who comes in like some magical cleaning elf after everyone has gone home.
In Japan cleaning the classroom is as much a part of the curriculum as anything else. Check out this site to see how it's done. Even if you don't understand Japanese, just go to the site and start clicking on the cleaning implements. Not only will you hear how to pronounce each item, you'll see how to properly use them.
It seems too bad that kids here aren't really taught in school how to clean up after themselves. They sort of put their own stuff away, but the real cleaning happens when they aren't around. It never really enters their consciousness. That's a shame.

Friday, February 13, 2004

To Whom It May Concern

What's with Mac Mail's "finding unseen messages" message while it's checking my mail? I know it's just refering to what's new on the server, but what if it really could do that-- find all your unseen messages.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Sealed My Fate?

I met with my boss today at UNH and told him I would like to stay and continue to teach whatever Japanese classes they have, for at least for next year and preferably beyond that into the foreseeable future. Forseeable future in my case generally means 3 to 4 years, but in this case I'm shooting for at least 5. I figure if I can stay here five or ten years and build a decent, 3-year undergrad program that'll probably give me enough serious experience to go back and get a job teaching Japanese in Hawaii again someday. Or retracing my steps back out to Colorado again might be fine too.
My boss said he was happy I was staying. That's good. Me too. There's a lot of the mixed up, stupid stuff that seems inherent to any large organization, same as everywhere else I've been, but I like the people I work with. Like the job, like the people and a 15 minute commute. Don't think I've got any other options that beat that.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Slow Dog

I always thought dogs were supposed to be up at the crack of dawn hounding their owners to be let outside. Well, not my dog.
This being a Sunday morning and all, I slept in until 8:30 and, just like every other morning, went downstairs to find Pancho all curled up in a little ball snoozing away in his crate. Every morning he gives me the same look.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Spring Has Not Come

We had temperatures near and slightly above freezing for a few days, which inspired my husband to walk around the house proclaiming "Spring has come!" I tried to tell him spring doesn't come to NH in February, but he wouldn't listen. He's going to have to learn it through experience.
It's been snowing and sleeting and misting and freezing at various intervals for the past 24 hours now. When Rachel got home from school yesterday it was still in the just snow phase so we got our gear and went cross country skiing in the field across the street. It was a blast. I would have liked to have gone out again this morning but it's so icy. I'm staying put. We're all here drinking coffee (or coffee milk), eating angelfood cake for breakfast and feeling quite content.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Pet Peeve of the Moment

Those people who drive around Durham with their little cardboard faculty parking passes hanging from their rearview mirrors really bug me. I don't take that thing out in public until I'm parked in the parking lot and the first thing I do when I get back in the car is take off the damn pass and put it away. Otherwise you're just driving around town saying "Oooh! Look at me! I teach at The University!"
Yeah, I realize I probably have issues with this, but I hate how people seem to assume that if you teach at the college level it means you're somehow smarter or a better teacher than people who teach at the elemenary and secondary levels. I don't buy that for a minute. I'm pretty sure "regular" teachers work a lot harder than most college professors. Too bad they don't get the recognition (or pay) they deserve.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Elementary School Debut

Yesterday I taught my first class about Japanese culture in the after-school enrichment program at my daughter's school. It was hectic and not all that organized, but it was a lot of fun. There are 15 kids in the class and Rachel is there as my "helper".
The class will meet for 6 sessions, and I decided to jump right in and start with some writing. First I told them about the two Japanese alphabets (syllabarries actually, but who even knows that word anyway) and the kanji characters. They practiced reading a tiny bit and I showed everyone how to write their own name. We also did a little guessing game where I wrote a letter or character on the board and they had to tell me what kind of letter (hiragana, katakana or kanji) they thought it was. If it was a kanji they tried to guess its meaning.
We had a good time and they all looked pretty happy about it. Next week we're going to try calligraphy with ink and a brush. I need to practice myself first! I haven't written with a brush in years.
I'm also making little journals for everyone, mainly because the description of the course that went home to all the parents said that they would have one. It's a good idea, but not one that came from me! Anyway, I have been handstitching little cardstock cover journals with red embroidery floss and they look kind of cool. Next week everyone can write their name on the cover of their journal in Japanese and in the following weeks they can keep track of what we do. I want it to be like a little portfolio, where they practice doing something for most of the class and then when they're ready they do a "masterpiece" version in the journal, which I will keep between the classes. Then at the end of the 6-week session they can take their journal home and show their parents what they've worked on. We're going to spend two weeks on writing, then we're going to do classes on how to draw anime, kamishibai a traditional type of picture story telling, origami (have to) and finish up with a sushi party. Sounds pretty fun, huh?

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

This is Mean

This is really mean and I can't condone it , but I can kind of understand where this angry tattoo artist is coming from.
I suppose if I were in his shoes and some dippy girl came along wanting a tattoo that says "beautiful goddess" in Japanese, I might be tempted to do something similar. I guess I can say I feel his pain.
Obvious ink (and/or piercings) just really doesn't fly in Japan, unless you're hanging out with a very urban, artsy, clubby crowd. Like the girl looking for the "beautiful goddess" kanji tattoo would even care.